Over the last twenty years there has been a substantial increase in baseline understanding of deep-sea ecosystems at local and, in some places, regional scales. Driven by concerns over the implications of multiple stressors including warming, acidification and deoxygenation there has also been a resurgence in ecophysiological understanding of key taxa in the deep ocean, but our understanding of how deep-sea communities are interconnected at ocean basin scales remains extremely limited.
This lecture will highlight new findings emerging from the ATLAS project, a consortium formed through a transatlantic alliance between Europe, Canada and the United States of America. With its foundation built upon a better understanding of Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation ATLAS is using a transatlantic network of deep-sea ecosystem Case Studies to better understand their functioning, connectivity and vulnerability to change. For example, by using recent advances in oceanographic data availability, modelling resolution and a better understanding of larval biology and dispersal ATLAS is fostering more interdisciplinary partnerships between physicists and biologists to model ecosystem connectivity. Alongside the natural sciences ATLAS is completing socioeconomic analyses examining the values placed upon deep-sea ecosystems. In the final stages of the project ATLAS will use a maritime spatial planning approach to collate its findings and provide practical tools for managers.
Overall, the ATLAS consortium will bring together key advances and approaches relevant to ocean basin-scale research and ecosystem management. The lecture will highlight the importance of basin-scale research to support both national and international marine conservation and other management measurements, including the on-going United Nations deliberations on a new legally binding agreement to manage biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction.
Murray Roberts is Professor of Marine Biology at the University of Edinburgh's School of GeoSciences. He leads the Changing Oceans research group and co-ordinates the European ATLAS project, creating a transatlantic assessment and deep-water ecosystem-based spatial management plan for Europe.